Will it be Déjà Vu All Over Again for Padres?

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the San Diego Padres started the season with a 15-12 record in April, a 19-9 record in May, and a 15-12 record in June, then faded in the second half going 26-43 to end the season in third place behind the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.

This year, the Padres have winning records in April through June but have started July with a 2-4 record. Worse, during Wednesday’s game against the Giants, C.J. Abrams and Jurickson Profar collided, leaving Profar unable to walk off the field. He’s been diagnosed with a concussion and neck strain.

Even the most ardent Padres fans have to be wondering if this is “Déjà Vu All Over Again.”

That phrase has been attributed to Hall-of-Fame catcher and outfielder Yogi Berra. Known for his malaprops, Yogi also opined that “baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” Singer John Fogerty also used the phrase in a song about Vietnam (a matter of life and death that cannot be compared to the fate of a sports team). Still, the lyrics fit the situation as the Padres prepare for the near future with a gimpy Manny Machado, an absent Fernando Tatis Jr., an injured Profar (who is third in RBI at 38, behind Machado at 47 and Jake Cronenworth at 43), as well as a struggling offense:

Did you hear ’em talkin’ ’bout it on the radio
Did you try to read the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before
It’s like Deja Vu all over again

“This has been our worst stretch of the season,” manager Bob Melvin admitted after 8-2 and 6-2 losses to the 41-42 Seattle Mariners. He also bemoaned the team’s “sloppy” play: “The defense always been there, the effort’s been there. It has not the last few games, and it’s our job to address it and make sure we get going in the right direction again.”

The Padres have the advantage of an experienced manager in Melvin. Last year Jayce Tingler, who had never managed at the major league level, was obviously in over his head and had lost the respect of at least some players.

Under Tingler, the promising 2021 season turned into a 79-83 disappointment. After three positive months and a 53-40 record, the team went downhill, ending the second half with a 26-43 record:

April 15-12

May 19-9

June 15-12

July 12-14

August 11-15

September 6-19

October 1-2

This year the Padres have a 47-36 record, .566 winning percentage, and are 21-18 at home and

28-18 on the road. Like last year, the team has gotten off to a good start through June.

April 14-8

May 16-11

June 16-13

After staying close to the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego now finds itself six games out, having lost three of four to the Dodgers over the weekend. In July so far, the Padres have lost four games and won two.

A. J. Preller (president of baseball ops and general manager) learned from last year’s subpar pitching, a season in which only Joe Musgrove had a winning record (11-9, 3.18 ERA). The rest of the staff struggled:

Yu Darvish 8-11 .422

Blake Snell 7-6 .420

Chris Paddack 7-7 5.07

Ryan Weathers 4-7 5.32

Preller added Sean Manaea and Nick Martinez (who has acted as starter and reliever). He also brought up top prospect MacKenzie Gore, who lost most of 2020 thanks to COVID-19 and struggled through last season in the minors. Although Gore pitches as he belongs, the Padres will have to watch his innings as the season progresses.

So far, only Manaea and Snell (a total mystery) have losing records. The version of Snell, which won the American League Cy Young Award just four years ago, has been AWOL in San Diego. Overall though, Padres starters have been a definite improvement over last year’s.

Joe Musgrove 8-2 2.25

Yu Darvish 7-4 3.53

Sean Manaea 3-4 4.18

MacKenzie Gore 4-3 3.18

Blake Snell 1-5 4.66

Mike Clevinger 2-1 3.34

Nick Martinez 3-3 3.68

Although the pitching has improved, the offense has struggled from the beginning, thanks in part to the absence of Tatis Jr. and Machado’s injured ankle. The latter leads the team with a .315 average and 47  runs batted, followed by

Nomar Mazara .301, 13 RBI;

Eric Hosmer .272, 33 RBI

Jose Azocar .257, 7 RBI

Jake Cronenworth .240 43 RBI

Ha-Seong Kim .233 27 RBI

Austin Nola .233, 23 RBI

Luke Voit .229 35 RBI

Trent Grisham .186 32 RBI.

C.J. Abrams .210, 8 RBI

Other players like Robinson Cano, Luis Campusano, Trayce ThompsonSergio Alcantara, Matt Beaty, and Matthew Batten have made cameo appearances. However, none of them have stuck with the team.

No doubt Preller has been working the phones already in anticipation of the August 2 trade deadline. Last year the Padres and the Dodgers breeched the luxury tax threshold, and the Padres paid an additional $1.29 million. However, rumors indicate that ownership may leery of doing so again.

Also, Preller has used many of the team’s talented minor league players as trade bait. Last year their minor league talent ranked eighth according to bleacherreport.com. This year, San Diego has fallen to 16th, and three of those minor leaguers have been called up, including Abrams, Campusano, and Gore. Outfielders Robert Hassell, James Wood, and Joshua Mears; shortstop Jackson Merrill, infielder Euribiel Angeles, and pitchers Robert Gasser and Kevin Kopps round out the top ten.

Despite the team’s weaknesses, the Padres remain on a pace to win 92 games. The improved starting rotation and the return of Tatis Jr. bode well for San Diego. According toteamrankings.com, the Padres will win 90.8 games, second to the Dodgers at 103.0 in the National League West. Despite an 82.9 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, the Padres’ chances of winning the division fall to 5.8 percent, and the chances of winning the World Series to 3.5 percent.

Fortunately, the games aren’t played by prognosticators in offices but by men on the field. With the improved pitching staff, the return of Tatis Jr., and the guidance of manager Bob Melvin, the San Diego Padres have a good chance to at least win a Wild Card berth. It helps that the  2022 Giants do not resemble the team that won the West 107-55, one game over the Dodgers 106-56.

Of course, the ultimate “déjà vu all over again” would be meeting the New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1998, the second of San Diego’s trips to the series, the Yankees won 4-0. The 2022 Yankees are on a pace to win 117 games, one more than the single-season records of 116 shared by the 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1906 Chicago Cubs.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.
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Tony C
Tony C
6 months ago

The Padre problems run deep and wide. It’s not one position that’s causing the issues. The team as a whole is an issue. There is not one consistent hitter on this team. Anyone now saying “Manny” is incorrect. Manny is not consistent. He is a streaky hitter and has been more silent recently that productive. Hosmer is looked at as tanking. Manny has dropped almost 100 points in his average as well.
Cronenworth is off by 50 plus. Grisham is off 40 plus, Nola is off 30 plus. On Sunday we had 4 AAA players in our starting lineup. Rooker, Azocar, Abrams, and Batten. Add that to Mr Strikeout Voit and his close second Alfaro and you have an extremely bad offense on the field.

Defensively we have looked lazy and unready. How many wild pitches/passed balls in Sunday’s game? SIX or SEVEN!

This is on Preller. I cannot believe they extended Preller.

I’ve read that Preller is not a well liked GM. Which GM is going to “help him out” by taking Hosmer off his hands? No one. Preller backed us into salary cap hell. He has spent the last few years overpaying for this he has wanted. Be it in salary or too often with prospects. Our farm system is very depleated. We don’t have a whole lot to trade without fully mortgaging our future.

This is on Preller. I cannot believe they extended Preller. Yes, I wrote that twice!

I now envision him trading wayyyyyy too much and we’ll end up with someone who will not make a difference. Heaven forbid it be Gallo. I’d trade Myers for Gallo. Save money and they’re both gone after this year.

We are stuck. Preller has put us in this untenable position. We have reinforcements coming. It is difficult to remain optimistic right now. I am going to be the Padre fan I’ve been since 1969. I still reserve the right to call it like I see it.

Diane Calkins
Diane Calkins
6 months ago
Reply to  Tony C

Hi Tony,

I too have been a long-time fan (but grew up rooting for the Dodgers). When we first moved to San Diego I was shocked by the ineptitude of the team. But then there were the good years and Tony Gwynn and Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman and Adrian Gonzalez.

The Preller years have been so up and down and disappointing overall. He’s traded every player from the last regime and has been gifted the highest payrolls in the team’s history. He has a great eye for minor league talent, but the farm system has been depleted as you point out. So far, he’s gotten the team to the playoffs just once and that was during the COVID-shortened season.

On the positive side, the Padres are still in second place in the division with a 49-38 record. And, for the first time in Preller’s tenure, the team has an experienced manager. Tatis Jr. should be back in the near future.

Unfortunately a series in Coors Field won’t help if recent history is any guide. At least the All-Star break is coming up soon!


6 months ago

We’ve been lucky. When 3 of your best hitters are retreads like Mazara, Profar and Alfaro you’re in for some regression. Here are some suggestions:
OF: turn Tatis into a corner OF. He’s bad at SS and will stay healthier in RF. Acquire a corner OF. Benintendi, Happ. NOT Gallo. Forget about Myers. It isn’t possible to trade him, and it’s looking unlikely he’ll play this year. Stick with Grisham. After a dreadful start he has quietly improved. He’s all of 25 and still has the talent that we traded for in the first place.
IF: committ to Kim at SS. With his glove and a league average bat he’s a keeper. Trade Hosmer now. For anything. This level of “production” from 1B is a joke. After a hot month, he has cratered and is completely unplayable. A wRC+ of 58 for June and 28 for July means it has reached crisis proportion. Either trade him or bench him. Acquire a 1Bman, Bell or Mancini.
P: Trade Snell. Too inconsistent. Pick up a reliever.
After the first half it’s obvious this club doesn’t have the offense to hang with the Dodgers and we risk slipping behind the Phillies and Cardinals to miss the playoffs again. If we do miss the playoffs fire Preller.

6 months ago

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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